Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Difficult Is An Understatement

If there is one thing in my life that I am difficult about, it is about my diet. In fact, I can be as stubborn as a mule when it comes to what I will eat and what I will not eat. Let’s get the obvious out of the way. My issue is not that I do not recognize the importance of eating a good diet of balanced nutrients, low cholesterol and salt, low fat, blah blah blah. Sorry, there goes that stubbornness showing up. I really do understand how important it is to eat properly. I just do not. I won’t say that I “can’t.” I clearly know, that I will not. And it is not for lack of trying, and I have tried many diets, other suggestions, a dietician, and even being shamed and guilted has had no impact.

The need is obvious. I am overweight. My high school weight was 128 pounds. At the time of my diagnosis of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I weighed 150 pounds. If I really put my mind to it, I am pretty sure this weight gain could be attributed to a party life-style that had been brought to a screeching halt with the diagnosis. But then something strange happened.

Eight months of chemotherapy, and the damaging of my thyroid from radiation therapy, I gained over fifty pounds for the first time in my life, topping the 200 pound mark. I was always under the impression that chemo patients lost weight, a lot of weight resulting in a sick, waif-like thin condition. But one of the drugs of my chemo cocktail was high dose prednisone, a steroid, which one of the side effects is increased hunger. I ate a lot during my chemo, and not necessarily quality, but rather what tasted good; lots of pasta and ice cream.

Topping out at 206 pounds, I was intent on losing every pound I gained during chemo. I joined a gym. I changed my diet, well sort of. Now would be as good a time to qualify or explain my eating habits.

This, is Morris The Cat. He is known for his television commercials in the 80’s and 90’s for being one finicky feline. Well, when it comes to being finicky, Morris has nothing on me. And unlike Morris, I have had this issue much longer than he has. I am best described as a lifetime “meat and potatoes guy.” There are only two vegetables I will eat voluntarily, and three maybe four fruits I will eat. It is not a case of “well have you tried it?” I have tried most things that I do not eat, and it is either the flavor or the texture that will actually repulse me to the point of nausea. Now, back to my post.

I wanted to drop the weight I gained from my chemo quickly. That meant changing what I ate, and exercise. I joined a gym, spent roughly an hour a day there. And because of my finicky eating habits, I literally ate, and had no issue doing so, tuna mixed with Italian salad dressing on a pita for lunch, with baked beans (yes, I was fun to be trapped in the office with), and a large baked potato for dinner. In two and half months, I lost every pound I had gained. Success. One problem. As I returned to my normal eating, which I coincidentally stopped working out at the same time, the weight slowly started creeping up on me.

Now it should be noted, I take levothyroxin, a synthetic drug to make up for how my thyroid, which controls metabolism, fails to do. I was put on the drug to help me with my weight, while at the same time, I had been told, “don’t expect to lose weight.” I did expect to lose weight, because I had been paying attention, but alas, I did not lose anything, just continued to gain. Eventually, another drug was added to my list of nine, as I became diagnosed with diabetes. I was put on another drug, that potential could help with my weight, but still, nothing has happened.

I have been where I have been at now, for nearly twenty years. I have done all kinds of diets, with only Weight Watchers having the best success, as long as I had peer support, which I did not, or at least did not keep up. I am not an alcohol drinker, so that is not a problem, but one vice that I do have, unable to stop, is Coca-Cola. I stop multiple times, only to start back up again. It should be noted, I do not lose weight when I stop drinking Coke. Admittedly, I use the Coke for energy, unable to do energy drinks due to my thyroid medication, and I do not drink coffee. But I need caffeine, and Mountain Dew is too rough for me.

Portion control is not a problem for me. I do not eat a lot of high cholesterol or salty foods. I walk about 10,000 to 15,000 steps a day, and following my last heart surgery, I am finally able to do some upper body workouts to at least have a minimal cardiac benefit. So there is really no reason for me to be carrying the weight that I do. It is right there, above my waste line. It cannot be missed.

I have so many well-meaning friends who try so hard to help me with my diet issue. I am a good sport, trying anything placed in front of me, but as one found out with my “repulsive” comment about their plate, this mentality of what I will eat and will not, is so deeply engrained. I understand why it is so hard to quit smoking when you have been doing it for so long. I have been eating this way, 52 of my 56 years of life.

The last post, I mentioned comedian Gabriel Iglesias (Big Fluffy) and will refer to him again. Iglesias had mentioned that while during Covid, he had lost nearly a hundred pounds. Which he credited to going “vegan,” which sparked laughter at such disbelief. But he stood by his claim, and then proceeded why he failed lasting less than a year on the diet, that it was just too hard for him to make that change after so many years. I get it Big Fluffly, I really do.

Like I said, it is really hard for me to understand why I am unable to do anything about my weight. I do exercise. I eat with portion control. And I pretty much eat the way that I did when I weighed what I did in high school. But there has been some major changes to my body. And since these theories of mine have not been ruled out, I am pretty much leaning in that direction until proven wrong. And if so, would explain why nothing has happened to experience dramatic weight loss, but unlikely ever to drop the pounds.

My treatments thirty plus years ago did major damage to my metabolism, likely completely destroying it. So no, I do not believe it can be kick started. Also, with the surgery done to my abdomen as part of the staging process to my Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I likely have a ton of scar tissue now, which I cannot prove weighs extra. Here is why I believe in that theory, because no matter how much exercising I do with my abdomen, there has never been any shaping or even a hint of a “six-pack” ab. Everything else about me is no different than in 1983, five years before I had cancer.

There, I have made every excuse I have, every reason I can justify. I realize that to change, I need to want to change. I do feel I need to lose the weight. But will not do it at the expense of enjoying what little food I find enjoyable. I guess I would have to admit, there is a part of me that feels, with all the health issues I deal with, which are progressive in nature, will still occur regardless of my diet, so if I am going to be able to at least enjoy something, my diet is not going to change my fate.

To all my friends, family, and readers who make the right choices in diet, I admire you. I really do. I have so many friends who are plant based, yet I cannot imagine going one day without meat. I am glad you feel better eating that way. It is just after all the ways that I have tried, even my subconscious is just as stubborn as me.

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